Sorry for the delay, haven't been able to really sit down and read both posts for a few days.
The point of the comment was that ABM can never provide the same level of defence as MAD because it fails to deal with the full spectrum of threats (which can rapidly develop to render ABM impotent).
The error you make in that line of reasoning is by assuming that MAD is a strategic doctrine that provides some form of tangible defense.
As i've already explained in detail about, it isn't, and never has been. It is the traditional model of how nuclear warfare was theorized to play out. A paradigm that has become increasingly challenged and discredited after the fall of the Soviet Union. The resurgence of ABM technology only spells the final nail in MAD's coffin of relevance as a the conventional model.
Furthermore, ABM was never meant to compete with MAD, or the "full spectrum of threats" that you associate with it. Weapon systems aren't built to challenge strategic models, ABM systems have from get-go been designed to counter ballistic missiles (more specifically those of the ICBM class in terms of nuclear warfare). So while it may be true in the present that ABM can be rendered ineffective, you'd be wise to note that their resurgence is still an ongoing process.
A decade from now and that perception won't be accurate.
Both though on the point of nuclear warheads its actually untrue for both the USSR and the US, in any case though capabilities were demonstrated non of these systems were feasible for providing realistic national coverage against ballistic missiles.
The only reason (at least for the US) that it wasn't deemed feasible (it was
very much realistic) was because of political jockeying within policymaker circles during the Kennedy-Johnson-Carter era that downgraded making an ABM Shield a priority for national defense.
As I said, the proposals were drawn up as early as the late 50s that the US would focus first on building up a massive offensive advantage over the Soviets, before then building up a defensive shield that could be thoroughly "thickened" and/or upgraded in order to ensure the MAD model of nuclear warfare couldn't be viable.
There's also the fact that with the signing of the ABM Treaty in the 70s that it became outright illegal for either country to continue with their proposed Missile Defense R&D trends and implement them on a large national scale.
I disagree, the US ABM system will be unable to guarantee sufficient protection against the Russian ballistic deterrent
The US ABM system (as it is now) isn't complete yet, it's still a work in progress. Hell, the MDGE (while operational) hasn't even been fully completed yet. Of course
it's not going to guarantee sufficient protection against a Russian attack. A decade from now though?....Well i'd beg to differ.
especially as the threat is adapted to better deal with the ABM systems involved
the cost to provide such protection is prohibitive
Not for the US it isn't.
I would actually class Russian priorities as continued improvement of early warning systems to ensure the deterrent remains effective and to remove reliance on neighbours.
They're already doing that more or less.
Modification of current ICBM arsenal to counter ABM by MIRVing with the new RV
MIRV isn't a counter to ABM, it's simply a method to increase the lethality of an ICBM over it's target area. As for the RV (if the Russians ever get it to work), the US still has another layer of ABM defense that would be more than adequate at intercepting it.
improving bus manoeuvrability and countermeasures.
Bus maneuverability is irrelevant, they'd still be illuminated by Missile Defense radar systems, and they're never going to be in a situation where they could actually dodge or avoid a GBI in such a manner. As for countermeasures, the whole point of GBIs intercepting the bus at that stage in an ICBM's deployment is the fact that countermeasures are made useless.
They wouldn't be able to deploy at that point.
While moving forward from failure is obviously key to any development program you should not take progress as a indicator of an easy task. The US program has had to stumble through huge problems and technical barriers to make a system that could potentially rapidly, accurately and reliably engage ballistic missiles and as we can see they are still coping with huge technical difficulties even in the unrealistic test situations.
I think you're overstating things as they are. Ballistic technology has been advanced for quite some time now, it's largely been a matter of political expedience that it has never been utilized in the ABM role.
Most if not all the problems (if you'd call them that) that the US has had is attributable to having to constantly start from scratch on new systems while still taking the best parts of what worked in past designs and applying them with modern techniques.
To say that BM interception is easy would be to trivialise the effort and expenditure the US are investing in the ABM program.
BM interception is
easy though, and it can be done in a variety of ways. The most expensive part of any ABM network is going to be in how advanced and extensive the MDGE for that system is, hence the cost of the vast majority of the current US ABM Shield, not the R&D aspects by themselves.
By simple way of comparison: Of the first 72 launches of the TOW anti-tank missile, all but three
were complete failures. Of the 32 initial launches of the Gabriel anti-ship missile, every single one failed. The ABM system to date has a far
better R&D record with which to base the merits for it's continued development. Likewise, I don't think anybody would describe the TOW or the Gabriel as failures today. To trivialize the effective potential of a working and viable ABM Shield is equally (if not more) demeaning, especially if the R&D methods used to perfect it are taken out of context.
Which I am, the current line of thought is only applicable to weapons of a conventional nature, make your flight unconventional and you essentially wipe out a whole level of defence and bring all those RV down on the second layer, make your RV and their deployment unconventional combine that with there numbers and you really in a whole new game in terms of the ICBM.
Which is impossible
. If the ballistic trajectory of an ICBM were altered in flight than it's not going to be a large hinderance. It's still going to be illuminated by the early warning radars, to say the least of the fact that GBIs are capable of source programmable autonomous guidance.
They'd simply alter their own trajectories to compensate. The level of defense they provide isn't going to be so easily bypassed, especially when ICBMs have to attain a higher exo-atmospheric altitude (in line with their ballistic courses) in order to deploy to their subsequent stages.
As for knocking down buses, OBV as a true bus interceptor has demonstrated a range in excess of 5300 km far more that Nike-Zeus which is at best described as a late mid-course interceptor and would have been very vulnerable to missiles releasing their MIRV early. Buses can also carry their own countermeasures to deploy en-route as well as when deploying the RV.
Which is also impossible. A long range ballistic missile does not in fact fly a perfect ballistic trajectory from launch to impact.
The mid portion of the trajectory is flatter then the ascent and descent, mainly in order to give longer range without wasting energy climbing to an absurdly high altitude.
So until the missile tips back down onto a more or less ballistic path to its target area, it canâ€™t release countermeasures or MIRVs. That's why the GMD portion of the US ABM system is so effective, it takes out the missile bus before countermeasures or MIRVs/MRVs can be deployed.
Here's a nice picture to help you out:
The GBIs are designed to intercept the missile bus between stages 4 & 5. Long before the bus has maneuvered to the apogee of it's ballistic trajectory and has been able to deploy it's MIRVs or countermeasures (as shown in stage 7).
The first sentence I really do disagree with, ICBM technology as mentioned above has been static for a while now and naturally in response to a new threat we are seeing some real innovation that appears to be putting ABM on the back foot again.
Like what? Name one counter to ABM Systems for ICBMs that actually manages to bypass every layer of defense.
The second point is contradictory, ICBM and SLBM are essentially the same thing when it comes to the offensive weapon, both are ballistic missiles, if SLBM can be a valid form of deterrent against ABM then so can ICBM.
Wrong. One of them has an intercontinental range requiring it to go into low orbit before it reaches it's target, the other does not. One of them stays within an endo-atmospheric environment (thus giving it inherent advantages) while in flight, the other does not. One of them can have it's launch platform pre-positioned to shower it's target with SLBMs long before any sort of effective defense or early warning can be established (and if they are, they're often too late), the other does not. I could go on, but those points are more than sufficient.
I probably should've added that ICBMs won't only
be succeeded by SLBMs. Manned sub-orbital bombers (such as the proposed B3 bomber in the pipeline for the USAF) and space based weapons will also play important roles as well.
The infrastructure point isn't really relevant since its already in place, the Russians didn't build their entire rail network nor their road network just for their ICBM, these are just national transportation methods that a missile force can utilise to provide a greater level of security than a static silo.
Security made moot by the fact that the infrastructure gives away any sense of security such rail networks are meant to provide. What security does the rail network provide when a number of intelligence assets can be used to detect what they support.
Or when any protection they offer can be broken and/or disrupted by nuclear penetration bombs, or simple high-yield ground bursts in a concentric detonation pattern?
Ok but still sources, there's so little information out there that these assumptions are unwarranted.There you go
, it's an old article that has a number of things wrong. But the points made at the end are what I believe you're referring to.
Interception is much more complicated than a range envelope and you still have the problem in that you have missed the ideal interception point when the warheads are still on the bus, risking saturation.
Again: Source programmable autonomous guidance.
I know very well that interception isn't just about the range envelope. Besides, the terminal defense ABM systems being built now are designed to counter short and medium range ballistic missiles, not ICBMs.
The range envelope that the Russian RV falls under is the AEGIS BMD system, which is designed to intercept MRBMs and ICBMs at any point post-Boost phase and prior to re-entry. So they'd still be intercept the missile bus regardless of whether it's at endo or exo-atmospheric ranges.
You also have to remember the fact that the AEGIS ABM system is interlinked with the other assets of the US ABM network. The ships assigned to intercept an incoming attack would easily be able to datalink their target detection data with the GMB portion of the network. The GBIs are capable of that as well, but are mainly calibrated for interception of the higher altitude types of ICBMs.
You really do have to ask how many of those vessels would be operational and deployed at any one time, would they be in the right area and would they be in the right quantity to repel the attack, for that matter how much do we really know about the attack?
90 ships have already been fitted with the MDGE equipment, just not the SM-3 missiles. Aside from that, the USN always has patrol routes that coincide with being the most probable area from which missile defense ranges could be taken into consideration, so that wouldn't be a problem either.
Conflicts since and including the Korean War the US always had to take into account the possibility of escalation and the Soviet response.
When the Soviets had barely a hundred nukes to their name? A conflict which broke out when the US already had a massive offensive advantage and was less than a year away from testing the first fusion-boosted nuclear fission weapons
(which the Soviets knew and were scared shitless of) and fusion implosion hydrogen devices? Come on.
The US knew the Soviets weren't going to start a nuclear conflict in Asia. If one was going to break out at any point in the 50s then Europe would've been the flashpoint. As I said, it was the primary reason why the US fought in Korea using practically all surplus WWII era hardware. All of it's most modern forces and units, from the B-36s to the pentomic nuclear divisions, were all in Europe for the entirety of the war.
As I said, the USSR didn't even begin to reach nuclear parity with the US until the late 60s to mid-70s. Not before.
When I look at the situations we are in today I would be quite worried as a Maximal-Realist, the US is the Hegemon and it has been overtly and openly exerting its power since 9/11, the most extreme of these examples are in Iraq and Afghanistan. The problem it would seem is that as Hegemon it hasn't been successfully exerting its power, Iraq and Afghanistan are a mess and the US has suffered severe loss of face on the international scene though this and other issues, the Hegemon is dented.
Hegemony is only dented when a challenger is able to successfully rival the leading power. In addition
to the other nations bandwagoning to that challenger.
Neither of those events has yet to occur, and while we could argue ad nauseum about the US exertion of force in Iraq and Afghanistan. The fact of the matter is that the US can afford to carry out such pursuits because it is the unchallenged leader within the international order. Whether it uses it's power wisely or not is irrelevant of that principal fact.
I think its also important to clarify what Maximal Realism is (the term is being misused here). Maximal Realism is not a strategic doctrine, its a model of how international relations work (just as MAD is a model of how nuclear warefare works). In a nutshell, Maximal Realism states that, once a power gains hegemon status, other powers will ally with it (bandwagoning effect) as long as that hegemon's status remains unchallenged
. If a successful challenge is mounted against the hegemon then other nations will begin to split away from it and ally with the successful challenger.
More importantly, Maximal Realism doesn't differentiate between state players and non-state players. The difference is insignificant, either can be challengers and each has to attract an appropriate response to any challenge it may mount.
As a side I wont spend too long but there definitely appear to be events in recent history that go against the idea that a use of power secures your position against your potential enemies. The rise of international terrorism, the SCO and in some respects the dislike of the US in general could be described as a classic case of real built in rallying against the US as a superpower and its presence on the global stage.
Power begets power. It does nothing to prevent enemies from coming back at you through new means. The rise of international terrorism (short as it has been) is a textbook example of that.
One of the reasons behind the 9/11 attacks was an attempt to cripple the United States militarily and economically. The planners assumed that the New York Financial District, Pentagon, and political centers in and around Capitol Hill represented the sum total of American political, economic, and military power (they weren't terribly bright people, OBL himself has virtually no real knowledge of the world or how it works).
In reality, the US is a very dispersed, very decentralized country, much more so than people might think. That isn't an accident. Crippling the US in such a manner would outright require some overt attack and, as 9/11 showed, an overt attack gets a devastating response (not necessarily a military one). Maximal and Minimal Realism at their best.
The SCO is largely a red herring, not indicative of a concrete geo-political endeavor on either China or Russia's part to really counter US global hegemony. It's largely an attempt to show both powers from a symbolic position of strength in opposition to the US. There's been no bandwagoning effect of countries flocking over to join them, and given past Sino-Russian relations and squabbles i'd bet good money that the SCO won't have much longevity in it.
The close co-operation between Syria, Iran, NK and members of the SCO after the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan
Also not indicative of anything other than the US' own overwhelming power in comparison to practically all of those countries combined. It'd be only natural that in the face of such geo-political/strategic pressure that such countries would try to rally with each other. It could easily be argued that such an event is a desired interest of US foreign policy with regards to them, given the "Axis of Evil" moniker and all.
N. Korea is contained by a multi-state coalition that includes other big powers aside from the US. Iran is contained primarily by the US. And Syria has largely been deferred for the Israelis to handle.
the relationship between Russia and its former WP states
The relationship where the Russians resort to old school bullying tactics that only resort to those countries (with the exception of Belarus) further bandwagoning to the US?
as well as the rise of Russian opposition against ABM
I've already pointed out the reasons for why the Russians are really in opposition to ABM. The rest of their supposed points of opposition are either for domestic consumption or geo-political talking points.
The problems I think with Maximal-Realism it that it can always explain away these problems by saying that the Hegemon wasn't using its power to the extent that it should and then seems to suggest that the problems faced by the US can be solved by even more extreme uses of power. Perhaps why some clamoured for an attack on Iran after the realisation of the Iraqi/Afghanistan situation hit home. The problem with this is that the US gets caught in an cycle of escalation since its trapped in situations it cannot win like the classic insurgent struggle while trying box against its fears (terrorism, proliferation) and all the while Maximal-Realism seems to demands greater and greater abuses to recover the situation. Essentially the US is using its power in the wrong way against all the wrong targets which is only going to generate more failure and damage the US further, while if you sign up to the Mini line current policy has understandably generated a whole host of new problems.
Read above. You're mis-applying the model of how Maximal Realism is supposed to work.
So on a Mini front ABM is bad because its only going to strengthen the opposition against you.
Not really, primarily because alot of that opposition (save Russia) are working on ABM tech of their own.
Then again for Maxi ABM is also bad though it seems to be a correct choice on first glance as it is an exertion of power which should make it harder for those hostile to challenge the US.
Now you're getting it.
n reality however ABM is an illusion and something the US against a power like Russia can only fail to achieve.
...Or at least I thought you were.
How is ABM an illusion?
Though to be honest it the impact of the US ABM will as you say continue with the status quo, though not due to US dominance but more realisticaly though the Russian developments which will perpetuate MAD, thats if you consider the race and tension in between a minor thing.
Russian developments will not be able to perpetuate MAD because MAD isn't a strategic doctrine that ensures tangible results. It's a theoretical model of how nuclear warfare works.
As i've already pointed out with regards to the destabilizing nature of ICBMs as offensive weapons, the problem lies in the fact that once the first missiles fly, the internal dynamics of a situation mean that all limits are off.
There's another saying about this: "one flies, they all fly". The reason is very simple. Country A detects an inbound missile - it has three choices.
1 - don't respond at all - the launching country gets its strike in, Country A is defeated without firing a shot.
2 - A limited response - Country A fires a similar number of missiles back. But. what happens to the rest? What if the launch country has fired all its missiles - Country A gets hammered and only gets a limited strike in as retaliation.
3 - A full response, empty the arsenal at the launching country. At least the launching country will be equally devastated so it doesn't win.
In practice option 3 is the only viable choice. However, suppose a frantic call comes in "Sorry, that was a mistake, we didn't mean it for God's sake don't shoot, we'll pay reparations, do whatever you like, just don't shoot."
1 - The call is genuine. Its believed, Country A holds fire disaster is averted.
2 - The call is genuine. Its not believed, Country A shoots back with everything it has.
3 - The call is a ruse, it's believed, Country A holds fire and is devastated without any retaliation
4 - The call is a ruse, it's not believed, Country A lets fly, both countrys devastated.
That's 3:1 odds in favor of a retaliatory nuclear exchange. In reality, the decision has always been to ignore the call and shoot. Now, the country that originally launched knows that, they know their call won't be believed. So they have to choices after the single-missile launch.
1 - Pray that something will happen and Country A won't shoot.
2 - Let fly with everything they have.
Follow the logic tree and no matter how one fiddles it, in the absence of ABM: "one flies, they all fly".
Now add ABM to the equation. Country A shoots down the first missile and calls the launch country with a simple message. "We shot it down. Now, do you want to talk or fry?" It's a break point, one that stops the slide.
Add in something else. The decision time high up is limited by the time for the missile to reach its target - a few minutes at best. That's what makes it inevitable. There's no time to do anything clever. With ABM, a failsafe is created that buys time for somebody to think of something.
That's just off the top of my head with regards to the pros of ABM that serve to outweigh the cons. The US and the 18 other countries working on ABM would all seem to be in agreement with that line of thought.
Sure the idea of control may not be airtight nor is it going to ensure the elimination of any type of weapon, to have such a view would be naive and I do not sign up to it, what I do sign up to however is the idea that while arms control is not an absolute it is an important moderator of weapons development and operation which can provide an important degree of stability.
We'll have to agree to disagree then. For precisely all of the reasons that I stated in my last post.
Just because they are an â€œexercise in futilityâ€ does not mean that they should not be used or that they should be disregarded else the world would be a considerably more dangerous place.
The world is made a more (or alternatively, less) dangerous place based on the actions, dynamics, and power plays that oscillate between the various Great Powers. The environment is not solely determined by artificial treaties is there is no brains/brawn to enforce them.
While arms agreements are static in terms of technical development, the proponents of ABM in the US at the moment are reliant on exactly the same principal. They rely on the points that the technical development for the ballistic missile is static and will never surpass ABM and that the ICBM is now redundant due to point one. This is a flawed opinion as new Russian developments (even before ABM has completed testing) are showing, ABM has not surpassed the ICBM nor has it removed the initial need of the weapon.
No they aren't. They simply rely on the fact that ABM tech can be introduced as a viable counter to the ICBM class of ballistic missiles that (in all their operational history) have never really had to be designed with such counters in mind on the large scale. Doing so simply serves to start another cycle in R&D development that doesn't necessarily have to rely on ICBMs as the principal delivery platform.
There are a number of R&D paths that could be taken, but the move away
from a reliance on ICBMs in the presence of ABM is the one that is most readily agreed upon.
Here's another interesting point, no class of weapon has ever been eliminated or rendered obsolete, they have only developed into more and more advanced forms.
Agreed. Forms that have never had a historical precedent that dictated that such forms resemble or operate exactly as their predecessors did.
For the US to try to gain security with ABM is more than anything an exercise in futility that the ABM treaty ever was, since the pace of technical development will ensure that security is never gained, the only solution for national security is to embrace the mutual insecurity of MAD, which to be fair has done a pretty good job to date.
On the contrary the pace of technical development only serves to play into the US own interests. Both in terms of the economic expenditures required to stay ahead in such a ballgame, and US policy overall. From the US point of view, it looks very good. If we can eliminate the ICBM as a viable strategic threat in the presence of new ABM systems, we've taken a big step towards securing the American homeland against attack. Which has always been a primary aim of US policy.
Read above for all my commentary on MAD. It certainly has not
done a good job to date in terms of preventing a nuclear war. One look at the Doomsday Clock could easily tell you that. stalker
Correct me if I'm wrong, but if Russia fires its ICBMs at the US, its RV's will detach somewhere over the middle of the Atlantic ocean, or ever Canada. Do the EKV's have the range to hit an RV before it releases its warheads?
Yes, they'd hit the ICBM missile buses before the RV's were able to be detached.
Even assuming your stated c.90% hit probability (which I'm still skeptical about in relation to Russian ICBM's, which have multiple decoys)
The decoys aren't deployed at the stage in the missile's deployment when the EKV would intercept the missile bus.
How many times do I have to point this out?
Yes, the US can increase the number of GBI missiles, but then a) AFAIK, increasing the number of offensive missiles is cheaper
Why increase the number of offensive missiles for little or not gain in capability? The US nuclear triad is already more than sufficient to destroy all of it's intended targets (and then some). Besides, AFAIK the cost of building and installing GBIs is relatively cheaper than the cost of having to build or re-activate new ICBM silos that aren't really needed.
b) Russia will step up production of the SS-27, which is apparently impervious to any viable ABM defence today.
Russian bragging aside, how is it impervious exactly?
As I understand it, both these systems are designed to intercept short-range / medium-range ballistic missiles from a shortist range (about 200km), so I don't see how they could be very effective against MIRVed ICBMs who have released their warheads.
That's exactly what I was referring to, I didn't mean they'd be used against ICBMs.
I've read the US plans to build as part of the THAAD system 80 to 99 launches and 1422 interceptor missiles. Is the plan to put them around your major cities?
They could be.
They'll probably be adapted to mobile launching systems to be honest, just like PAC 3 batteries are. So setting them up in a variety of locations could be done very easily. Considering S. Korean THAAD tests involving F-15Ks I wouldn't be surprised if there was an Air Mobile version included aswell.
It hasn't been ruled out in Russia, in fact it is suspected that Moscow A-135 missile defence system still has some nuclear-armed interceptor missiles.
Granted you'll destroy chunks of Moscow's peripheral regions if you use them, but its better than having the city itself destroyed.
Not to mention the EMP effects. Agreed though.
1. Unlike Saudi Arabia, Russia can design rockets. In other words, its human capital and social development is on a level with any Western country
Anybody can design rockets these days. While I won't deny that human capital and social development aren't important pre-requisites to great power status, they're not really facets of that status in and of themselves.
Saudi Arabia still suffers from the scourge of illiteracy, excludes half the population from the workforce and some 75% of its university graduates major in Islamic studies.
Don't take that quote too literally. It doesn't mean that Russia is directly comparable to Saudi Arabia, it has more to do with the relative terms upon which Russia's claims to great power status can be viewed. In terms of nominal geo-political power Russia is easily comparable to any other European country.
2. True, but they can in Russia's case because it is the world's only major country that has both an energy surplus and an independent foreign policy. This will grow especially clear as Russia works to diversify its range of locked-in energy customers.
No argument from me on that, though I would simply re-assert the fact that a claim to great power status based off of oil production alone isn't going to be long lived.
3. Which resources cannot it exploit? The only obvious thing I can think of is that Russia is currently weak on LNG technology and deep off-shore drilling. Nonetheless, these remain peripheral and in any case it is working to remedy that.
I should've worded that better, Russia does have an abundance of natural resources. But has largely been restrained from exploiting them because of either a lack of political or economic will, or had other issues that took priority. It will take time to remedy all of the problems related to that.
4. Perhaps in 2050 the US and China would have fallen into disarray due to the strains of dealing with global warming while Russia partakes in an Arctic boom. Perhaps we'll be in the technological singularity. Perhaps looking forwards 50 years is an almost completely speculative exercise.
It's not a speculative exercise to point out the fact that oil is bound to be replaced by alternative sources of energy when the cost/benefit ratio of exploiting it is no longer profitable.
5. Nonetheless, what with peak oil becoming increasingly apparent and investment into shale oil/tar sands/etc lagging, at least in the short-to-medium term oil will become more, rather than less, central, in geopolitics. Brzezinski noted this as early as in the 1990's.
Agreed. But that's still no safegaurd against the need to not to solely rely on it as so many countries have, including Russia.
In PPP terms, Russia's economy has overtaken France's this year to become the world's sixth-largest.
7th, and only in terms of one indicator, even then (in terms of per capita PPP) it ranks 55th. The fact that it's economy is roughly the size of France's only serves to prove my point. Economically, while it doesn't mean Russia is a shell of itself, it also doesn't mean they can meaingfully compete with other economic powers.
Due to its high levels of human capital, rapid catch-up with the West in per capita terms is likely.
Considering Russia's negative population growth (current and projected)? I doubt it.
It has some advanced military technologies and its weapon sales are a useful source of leverage in the world, as are its energy resources. It also has one of the world's two premier nuclear forces.
Which only proves what I said, namely that those are the only real claim to great power status that Russia has ever had.
It is a permanent member of the UN Security Council.
A caveat of WWII, not a claim to great power status, just recognition of it.
39% of international respondents in a Bertelsmann Foundation survey consider it a World Power, compared with the US (81%), China (50%) and France (22%). Source : http://www.bertelsmann-stiftung.de/bst/ ... 3194_2.pdf. 37% think it will be a World Power in 2020, compared with 19% for France.
Polls are hardly are a substantial validation of whether Russia really is or will remain a world power, especially in terms of future geo-political trends. They only serve to reflect the opinions of people at the time they are taken, and can change just as easily as world events can.
So according to the survey, Russia is the world's third Great Power, which is an important fact since a) the title of Great Power is given rather than 'instrinsic' and b) is a kind of soft power in itself.
I'd disagree with point a to be honest, but that's a mater of other debate, and regardless of any soft power Russia could wield because of how it's perceived around the world, that power is still proportional to the hard power that can actually be exerted.
Frankly the idea Russia is not, or is a marginal, Great Power is absurd.
I think you misinterpreted me. I never meant to say that Russia isn't
a great power. Only that as a great power it's only real claim to that status has primarily rested on it's geo-strategic military power. Power that was vastly weakened or loss after the Cold War, and which the Russians are trying to re-assert.
Take away all that strategic military force and Russia's importance and prestige internationally as a great power are more or less equal to that of France.
Not according to geostrategists since Mackinder. The Heartland is practically impenetrable, whose forces can be concentrated against individual regions along the Periphery.
I wasn't just talking of Russia alone, but Central Asia as a whole. Historically there's plenty of evidence to support that assertion, regardless of whether every geo-strategist has to agree on it.
China has, IIRC, just 20 un-MIRVed ICBM's, yet it considers them to be a viable abeit minimal deterrant against a US first strike.
I don't think they've ever thought that to be honest. They've simply always had problems with their warhead production. As it stands now even the ABM systems that the US has operational now could more or less intercept all of the ICBMs they could fire at the CONUS.
It's also a matter of them retooling their strategic nuclear forces along future trends in strategy, hence them putting more effort into a better SSBN force. Though, again, they've had problems with that too.
Russia has far more, so I guess I should have said it has far more than needed for minimal deterrance.
The reason the Russians had to "supersize" their strategic forces wasn't because of meeting some abstract parameters of minimal deterrence. It had more to do with retaining operational redundancy (offensive and defensive) in the case of an actual exchange with the US. Their policymakers had to take into consideration scenarios where either some of their forces would be pre-maturely taken out, not able to launch, or would have to hit a harden target in the US multiple times in order to crack it open.
Such notions were also the main reasons why the warhead yields on a lot of their ICBMs were made so large in order to compensate for deficiencies with the accuracy of their onboard guidance systems.
The point is that as of now Russia does have the financial resources to do this, and that the older missiles are being modernized, according to what I've read, to be viable to at least 2020.
And what do they do after that? That isn't far enough of a future force posture outlook, i'd even go far to say that it serves to highlight the growing gap between the US and Russia in terms of their strategic nuclear forces. By 2020 the US will already have had the full ABM Shield completed and operational, and will be working on revamping it's current offensive nuclear triad with more advanced systems and delivery platforms.
I also think this is the main reason why so few SS-27 Topol-M missiles are currently being produced.
The reason so few are being produced is because it'd be too expensive to open up older nuclear production facilities. The rate of production on Topol-Ms is the best the Russians can do.
IIRC I also think the SORT Treaty places restrictions on how many nukes either side can be actively making.
To your point about it being expensive to upgrade all Soviet-era forces, that is of course true and the Russian Forces have no intention of doing so, their guiding principle being in fact, according to Ivanov, to be 'leaner and meaner'. Massive conventional forces are a thing of the past. Russia is now focusing on strategic areas (missile defence and nuclear forces) and hi-tech, relatively small, modern forces able to exploit the ongoing RMA (indeed, the concept of RMA has Soviet origins).
All of which they should've been doing a while ago. I agree though.
I agree with what you wrote in the long section about capabilities/intentions, planning, etc, but I don't see how it really relates to the supposed trend of ICBM's becoming obsolete.
Because, as I said, at the strategic nuclear level of though intentions become capabilities in and of themselves. If the US (along with a host of other countries) all intend to pursue viable ABM technology then such developments will only naturally mean that the ICBM will lose alot of the value it once had. As that happens, it's again only natural that alternative offensive capabilities would be pursued.
The ICBM certainly isn't obsolete now, and likely won't be a decade from now, but as better and better offensive weapon systems are devised it's become increasingly apparent that it's days as the principal offensive tool/weapon in a nuclear arsenal are numbered.
OK, the US massively expands the number of its GBI missiles at Vandenburg and Alaska, and perhaps builds a new facility at Maine.
What will Russia do? It will massively step up production of SS-27 missiles with their evasive abilities. It will certainly continue its policy of launching on warning. It will also probably pull out of SORT and reMIRV its ICBM forces, which will destabilize the situation even further.
Then the US would respond by further expanding it's own missile farms and/or ABM sites. Which do you think is cheaper?
More so then that (seeing as how the US and Russia would be in a defacto arms race), which side is better prepared economically to make such an undertaking?
Russia and the US have been through this before. Going into that kind of contest only plays to the US' strengths and against Russia's weaknesses.
AFAIK, building offensive missiles is significantly cheaper than building ABM forces, so this is not a race which the defence team can win at a low cost.
On the contrary it's dead wrong. With an ABM MDGE established it doesn't take much money to simply add more interceptors to the system. As i've said, they only cost 10 percent of the cost of the system as a whole.
Besides, GBIs have less components that need to be mass produced when compared to ICBMs. To say the least when it comes to the industrial infrastructure necessary for ICBM production as well. It's not just the missile that has to be made, but the fissionable material that has to be created and weaponized. A process that still remains complex to this day, and can still be prone to faults.
This is just curiosity, but what are these countries? I thought it was only the US, Russia, China, Israel and Japan that were in this game.
The US, Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Turkey, Israel, Japan, Germany, France, the UK, Italy, Taiwan, Singapore, Iran, S. Korea, and a couple of others I can remember.
Plus plenty of others like Thailand, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt that want to buy ABM systems from any of those countries that's willing to sell them.
Secondly, as I've said I am still skeptical about this idea that ABM is going to make the ICBM obsolete.
I was too when I first heard about it.
However, if tensions increase and treaties like SORT are thrown out the window and ICBMs are MIRVed, then counterforce targetting becomes a rational use of resources and railmobile ICBMs will certainly have higher survivability than silo-based, which are already very vulnerable due to amazing increases in precision.
Rail mobile ICBMs are more expensive, and just as vulnerable (if not more) due to increases in the precision of guidance systems.
What, the deterrant? Well, Russia's entire nuclear arsenal.
Oh ok. As long as I needn't remind you all the points i've made about the weaknesses and changes of the Russian nuclear arsenal that don't make it nearly as potent today as it once was.
Nonetheless, it should be noted that there were some serious debates within the US military/political establishments about whether there existed a missile gap with the USSR.
Nonsense. It was mindless political rhetoric propagated by the Kennedy campaign in the late 50s in order to get elected to the Presidency. JFK milked the whole "missile gap" fabircation specifically for domestic consumption. Watch one of JFK's campaign speeches sometime, the whole missile gap talking point was a cornerstone of his take on foreign policy issues.
Now don't get me wrong, there was
a missile gap b/w the US and USSR at the time, but it wasn't the US that was behind. Hell, as i've mentioned, by the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis the US had a 16:3 ratio of nuclear weapons superiority over the Soviets.
That, I'd think, was the main impetus to the Americans building huge numbers of offensive systems in the 1950's, rather than vague ideas about running the Soviet economy into the ground
And yet...it wasn't. The Truman and Eisenhower Administrations practically laid the foundations for US strategic nuclear posture in the early stages of the Cold War.
First with the huge build up of strategic bombers (back when they were the principal nuclear weapons delivery platform), the Army's pentomic divisions, the short lived nuclear artillery formations, and so on.
For instance, look at SAC:
SAC OOB 1946: (148 B-29, 85 P-51, 31 F-2, 15 C-54) About 30 of the B-29s were configured to carry nuclear weapons.
SAC OOB 1947: (319 B-29, 230 P-51, 120 P-80, 9 C-54, and 35 F-2, F-9, F-13, and FB-17)
SAC OOB 1948: (35 B-36, 35 B-50, 486 B-29, 131 F-51, 81 F-82, 24 RB-17, 30 RB-29, 4 RC-45, 11 C-54)
SAC OOB 1949: (390 B-29, 36 B-36, 99 B-50, 67 KB-29, 62 RB-29, 18 RB-17, 19 C-54, 11 C-82, 5 YC-97, 80 F-86, 81 F-82)
SAC OOB 1950: (38 B-36s and 20 RB-36s, 195 B-50s, 282 B-29s, 130 KB-29s,
19 RB-50s, 46 RB-29s, 27 RB-45s, 4 C-82s, 14 C-97s, 19 C-124s, and 167 F-84s)
SAC OOB 1951: (96 B-36s and 63 RB-36s, 216 B-50s, 346 B-29s, 10 B47s, 185 KB-29s, 22 KC-97s, 40 B/RB-45s, 40 RB-50s, 32 RB-29s, 4 C-82s, 36 C-124s,
and 75 F-84s).
It's not until 1951, that the Post-WWII de-mobilization and retooling buildup actually gain credible momentum of actually striking the Soviet Union in overwhelming numbers (159 R/B-36s), and with aircraft which don't get launched on one way suicide trips from the UK.
From that point on SAC continues to grow exponentally, hitting 1,000+
R/B-47s by 1954, aside from the first B-52 airframes that had begun to roll out.
(note that the CIA continually overestimated the Soviet economy's growth and capabilities).
The fact of the matter is that George Kennan didn't, and he had more influence in terms of forming US grand strategy against the USSR than the CIA did.
But is it a fact that the efficiency, in monetary terms, of a defensive shield rises anywhere as quickly as building more/better delivery systems?
Yes, especially with regards to the parallel adavancements that would've been made in guidance systems and computing power. Once the MDGE would've been established then expanding on it further would've been reltively inexpensive. Unfortunately that didn't occur.
Furthermore, it should be noted that the vast majority of Soviet military expenditure was still focused on its massive conventional forces. Presumably, has the US gone ahead with ABM full-on, the nuclear forces would have expanded, the conventional shrunk and a war, had it come, would have been all the more devastating.
Nuclear war in that period would've been devastating regardless, but that wouldn't have changed the fact that the Soviets would still have been playing catch up with the US up into the mid-70s.
I consider planning per se leads to contradictions and collapse, in the later stages of industrialization when it becomes too hard to fix prices on millions rathen than tens of thousands of goods. I also think democratization was both a product of increasing affluence, and internal built-up frustrations about corruption and slow growth, rather than anything the West did.
Again, if that's your opinion about the events that led to the USSR's collapse then you're free to go with it. I didn't mean to say that the US policy of containment against the Soviets was solely what led to the fall of the Berlin Wall in '89. In my own opinion there's no single event that could've led to it's collapse, but it certainly can't be denied that the overall US strategy played its part very well and should be given it's due diligence.
Because as it stands, the a) US ABM as it stands today is almost entirely useless against a Russian first strike and b) the US has shown no proclivity to launching a disarming first strike of its own. But these things can change.
It's more than capable of deflecting a Chinese first strike, why haven't they raised their alert status? Besides, as i've already mentioned more than a couple times now, it'd be rather inexpensive for the ABM missile screen to be thickened. So, when (not if) it is, if the Russians still don't raise their alert levels then will you be convinced? Or what about when the first ABM sites go up in Eastern Europe?
Not to mention that you haven't really addressed countries outside of the US and Russia.